LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MIDDLE EAST: Aisha Bin Bishr, director general of Smart Dubai, believes the city is edging closer towards its goal of becoming a “global benchmark for smart city transformation”, as she opened up on the benefits a unified approach to data can bring to citizens.

Smart Dubai, founded in 2014, is a government entity charged with overseeing a citywide transformation, engaging with leadership in both the public and private sector.

Speaking at the event in the emirate, Bishr said the collaborative approach between the two sectors was “breaking down barriers”, and beginning to instigate real change.

“While we have seen smart city projects on transportation or environment solutions, it is only when you put all of them together that we can achieve our mandate.”

Centre to that goal is promoting happiness across the city, and the initiative is driven through data, with a unique scientific approach to ensure this.

It has four portfolios, spanning 16 programs, with the end goal to identify what happiness means for Dubai, and increase happiness for everyone in the city.

“Happiness in Dubai is different to happiness in Mumbai and happiness in Shanghai. Each city has different needs and that is what we are addressing. Under the portfolio we will implement policies and help individual organisations to educate on happiness in everything they do.”

Honing in on the specific benefits of using data to measure an emotion like happiness, she said specific metres implemented across the city had recorded 2 million reports, achieving a happiness index of 89 per cent in 2015.

“Data can benefit city leadership,” she said. “Before, city managers would make ad hoc decisions that would affect their cities. Such insights and sharing data is unlocking valuable city data.”